Of the estimated 318,860 immigrants who had been shielded from returning from their dangerous home countries under the Temporary Protected Status program at the time President Donald Trump was inaugurated, over 97 percent will soon lose legal status due to a series of decisions that advocates say are based more on anti-immigrant ideology than on facts.
With almost no hope that the Trump administration will voluntarily reverse its decision or even grant the status to countries experiencing new crises, immigrant rights groups continue to advocate for legislative protections, challenge the decisions in the courts and offer legal aid to individual temporary protected status holders.
The temporary protected status program is meant to offer work permits and temporary protection from deportation – but not a path to permanent legal status – for immigrants who would otherwise be undocumented.
Temporary protected status is only available to migrants who are already in the U.S. when their country is designated – which usually happens very shortly after the disaster that prompts the designation. This arrangement means that those immigrants who receive temporary protected status have been in the U.S. for an especially long time, in some cases, decades. Many hold jobs, own homes and have children who are U.S. citizens.
Although the program is provided for by U.S. immigration law, and could, therefore, rebound relatively quickly under a more sympathetic administration, that possibility would come too late for current status holders.
One of the most concerning aspects of the situation is that the government has disregarded the fact that people’s lives could be at risk if they are sent back too early. Jill Marie Bussey, director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) said, “It’s heartless, it’s cruel, it’s immoral to send individuals back to such a high level of risk and fear for their lives.”